Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

(Mary writes)
Today we are remembering that Jesus was born many years ago.
I love history cause it's shows us God's plans. SO many years ago, one part of God"s plan was fulfilled. So many combinations of things had to happen to make it precise. Which is yet another reason I love our God - He is precise. A perfectionist actually. The events that happened when Jesus was born were actually part of a bigger plan that was initiated at the beginning of time. God so loved the world that He GAVE His one and only son ....

Our desire to be god, to exalt ourselves above the Creator. Our inclination towards rebellion of the truth - that God is god and we are not -  brought separation from God. Being the perfect parent God has a greater understanding, a longer vision then us. We strive and pull, He plans and creates order.

And back to the point of this post ... His plan was to send a solution, His precious son Jesus.
Because of that Gift, we can be brought back into fellowship with the God,
Creator and Father who loves us.
I love Jesus and I can't wait for the day I get to walk with Him.

We have been having a crazy Christmas. The traditions have been really helpful. When at this time of our life when all the routines are gone and the life that we had come to recognize and know as our own is changed. Buying presents has been done in kind of a daze, we were late in putting up the tree. I didn't send out cards this year or make gifts for others. It's just a different type of Christmas this year. But, when we went out in the woods to find the tree, which stood without ornaments for days and days in our living room, we were going through the motions which gave continuity to our lives. One day at a time.
Elisa and Benjamin have been so fun, helping with shopping and wrapping. Elisa wrapped and shopped for her dad. Benjamin helped me pick out stuff for his dad's stocking.
There have been so many fun surprises.

Christmas Eve I was finally wrapping the presents. After lots of treatments and battling survey software Don has been very tired. He struggled to stay awake to watch our Christmas Eve movie - It's a Wonderful Life - As we watched the movie again another year ... it was finally starting to feel like Christmas. Very pleasant.
Traditions, they give a sense of a place in time. And the comfort of previous memories gave us a sense of security.

We made a video for the family, opening the presents they sent us and then we added a few songs to entertain them. Here is a sampling of a song we sang for the family.

(This movie has gotten out of sync, now it's just dumb but I can't get it off, it won't delete - sorry)

Otherwise ... 

Finally, this morning, after a long winters nap - we awakened at around 9:00 AM.
I got the kids up and we enjoyed a lovely morning together. Don got some great presents - a new pair of slippers, new pj's, a new blanket, a new pillow and 20 videos, along with some great books. We told him that the gifts represents his job for the next month. R & R.

Here are some pictures from Christmas Eve 

Christmas Eve dinner

Christmas magic

Christmas morning 

Our beautiful sunshine handing out the presents.

I got a new Bible ... So excited!! 

Even Daisy got a gift

Benjamin's candy stash

Here is Don, surrounded by his equipment. 

We hope that you also have had a wonderful Christmas. We love you ALL so much. 
Merry Christmas !! 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

into the desert

Don writes:
First an update.
My tongue, mouth and throat were getting extremely tender, I thought it was from the radiation treatments. I could hardly swallow. My tongue was coated white, the white went on down my throat. Couldn't move my tongue around in my mouth. Very tough to swallow. I lost 5 lbs one week and 10 more the next.  I thought, if it's this bad in week 4, what will I do in week 7? The Dr was worried.

He said "next month is when you lose 15 pounds in two weeks, not now."

I had a thrush infection. And the pills he gave me did the trick. A week later and my mouth is better, my throat is not so sore, I have gained 5 lbs back. I think I'll make it again.

God was showing me what week 7 will be like, and then what it will be like as I recover.

But as I suffered, I received several more insights in what He was doing. He is sending me into the desert. Taking away things I am used to, all my creature comforts. Just like He did to Moses, Paul, and Jesus. Time to forget about everything else and dwell on Him. Kind of like throwing yourself back on the hammock in the warm sun and having it hold you up and swing you in the breeze. Relying on the Ropes of the hammock and that's all.

He is definitely getting my attention. 

I met Seeta in the chemo lab. She takes my blood sample on chemo days. Knows a lot of verses. She's been reading the Word for a long time. I have some great conversations with her, but always too short. She is an Encourager to me. When I meet brothers and sisters in the hospital, I wonder what it would be like if all of them were open about their faith like Seeta. How many are there? What an encouragement that would be!!

Most of us are afraid to let people know we are Christians. 'What will they think?'

Oswald Chamber says "If you cannot express yourself on any subject, struggle until you can." This would hold true on any subject, but he is talking about scripture. "If you do not, someone will be poorer all the days of his life." Start speaking what truths He has taught to you to yourself. Then tell it it to someone you know. Practice thinking it through in your own mind. The more often you tell your story the more comfortable it becomes.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What?!? No tumor??

(Mary writes)
You can imagine how surprised we were when the dr. pointed to the image on the screen and said

"This is the spot where we saw the cancer before 
- but it's not there now"

He was so matter of fact, Don and I were in shock! The first words that came out of our mouths almost at the same time were ...

  "Then we are done here? Can we go home now??"

Don had been having radiation and chemo for 2 weeks and 1 day at the time of the doctor. appt.

It was an emergency appointment with the doctor because the side effects of the radiation and chemo have been so disabling. He has a white coating all over his tongue ... thrush.
That is what took us into his office and after the 30 seconds it took the doctor to diagnose thrush he volunteered to put a scope down Don's nose to see how far the thrush had gone and just to get an idea of the condition of the tumor.

The doctor gave Don a anesthetic in his nose and then took the scope - equipped with flashlight and camera and put it into his nose and down to his throat. Wow! Not a fan. It didn't seem to hurt, I guess the anesthetic did the trick.

The doctor twirled it around, using the very thin rubber hose to scope this area and that. It's amazing actually. We could see the tissue was clean and pink. That is very good. 

We were ready to go home. We knew for sure that the Lord had taken it away and we were done. 
But do you think that is what the doctor is going to say? 


 Doctor said treatment must continue because people that have had their tumors go away and they didn't finish their treatments found that the cancer came back later because there were microscopic cancer cells.

 soo saad. 

I'm not sure I exactly believe him. If I could have my way, Don would have a biopsy and we would know for sure if it's gone. But, if he had a biopsy and we found it to be cancerous then Don would have to wait for his throat cut to heal in order for treatments to continue. hmm. 

OR we could find that the cancer is indeed gone and Don's impression of the power of the prayers was indeed what was true and the Lord healed him miraculously rather then through the medical community.

I think we are going to leave that decision for now. Let Don pray about it. 

But ... change of subject ... sorta ... I want to introduce you to a new guy I met at the VA radiation clinic.

Mr. Waffle Grill 

This is how he looks when he comes out of his radiation treatment. He would have been bolted down to the table. Often falling asleep, with the mesh mask pressing down on his face ... hence ... waffle grill. 

God is good ... We are dwelling in the shelter 
of the LORD Most High

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cerebral Action

 OK, Don has cancer. What in the world do you do with that? There are two basic choices, no actually three.
 1. Traditional medicine – chemo, radiation.
2. Alternative medicine – is generally based on the principle of the patient using the body itself to restore balance and health, strengthening the immune system. Diet will play a large part in that as well as exercise. There are supplements you can take, vitamins and essential oils. I have also learned about one method that uses a … enema… to clean the body of the toxins.  In fact, history shows us that the human race has used those basic precepts for all of time.
3. Don’t do anything at all - It is in fact one of the choices. I can imagine a poor, exhausted soul picking this choice.

After a lot of thought, reading and prayer, Don decided he was going to go with the traditional. It may seem like a no brainer choice but it’s not that easy of a choice to make. When you choose to go with the traditional method of radiation and chemo you are deciding to accept the permanent consequences that are likely to occur. Radiation will likely destroy his salivary glands which, surprisingly, are a significant loss. Don went to a speak pathologist that explained how intricate our swallowing is and how the muscles can become callused and hardened due to the radiation which would result in swallowing issues.
Chemo causes cancer... so does radiation but we won’t even go there.

As we are going to the hospital to learn about traditional medicine I am reading and learning about alternative medicine. It’s all about healthy choices, using the body to heal itself and becoming strong. I like that idea, it sounds like the right thing to do - but it too has a side effect ... lack of effectiveness. There are no charts or studies to show how many people have lived or died after choosing alternative treatments, it’s an unknown.  Compare that to the 85 to 90% success rate of the traditional treatment and you see why Don made the choice he did.   

The problem I have is I see the logic of alternative medicine. I hate traditional treatment. Of course, it’s not my choice to make but that is my perspective. The body that has cancer is out of balance somehow. Either genetically or environmentally, there is an organic reason the body is not attacking and killing the cancer cells. Obviously the body is not doing its job. It seems reasonable to think that in order to kill the cancer cells the body has to get back in balance, the impaired immune system has to get repaired or enabled to fight the invasion of diseased cells. While using alternative treatments that would mean that we are expecting the weakened immune system to not only right itself by the process of the alternative treatment but to kill the strong, determined cancer cells too. Hmm …

I am confident that either school of thought, traditional or alternative would have plenty of defenses for their position. Their arguments can steadily volley back and forth with no one’s mind being changed, no new perspectives being received.

I talked to Don’s doctor about the possibility of using one of traditional medicine’s own alternatives and she did not care to hear about any of it. I pressed the issue a bit, hoping she too would recognize that the body is amazing and what about the possibility of other thoughts, the other treatments listed on the very consent form the hospital had Don sign, but she looked at me blankly and said she did not recommend any of those. I guess you could say I pressed a little more, explaining to her that there are clinical studies PROVING the use of the essential oil from do Terra – Frankincense which has cured bladder cancer and she told me that she can only use treatments that are approved by the FDA, that it didn’t matter what other treatment might be out there, she was under the rule of the FDA and her hands were tied.

 WOW. I was a little disappointed in hearing that. I didn’t realize that the government was the final authority on our medical care … the final attending physician. 

From the beginning, when we first found out about the cancer we have approached it proactively. Using whatever means available to achieve the goal of a healthy body for Don. We have been making a lot of green smoothies. Getting a lot of those vegetables you always read about into his diet.

For instance, this morning he had kale, blueberries and banana in his smoothie. 
You might think that would be gross but it’s pretty good actually. I have really been leaning toward alkalizing foods. I understand that cancer thrives in an acid environment.  Foods like sugars and processed flours, even really sweet fruits create an ideal condition for the glucose hungry cancer cells.
 Vegetables are alkaline. 
Lots of vegetables, and uncooked is the best way for the body to
 get the most benefit out of most of the vegetables.

Another thing we have been doing is supplements. The Lord provided quite a bit for Don.
He was given a four month supply of Juice Plus …

He was also given liquid vitamins that have sea greens in them. They supply a great need for a body. 

Even the Cancer Society has recognized that nutrition plays an integral part of body health (aren’t they so smart? I think the American Caner Society is part of the government, the same government that is deciding what medical treatments should be available for folks – little scary)

He has also been provided do Terra Essential Oils. This has been a fascinating journey. I have learned so much about oils – these oils are not an oily kind of oil – they are more of an essence. Don has been on Frankincense for the whole time. That is the “oil” that is clinically proven to cure cancer. It has to be a certain type of Frankincense though, according to the University of Oklahoma, the Frankincense has to be therapeutic and a really high grade. The university used the doTerra brand Frankincense due to its ability to be absorbed into the body and because it’s chemical makeup is so pure.  
Here is a good link that explains it all …

He has also been on another series of supplements. Mircro Plex VM food nutrient complex and x EO Mega essential oil omega complex and lastly Alpha CRS cellular vitality complex. I have been on those a time or two myself and my energy level is amazing when I take them.

Today we got a report from the radiation dr. that Don was doing VERY well and that he has a good health nurse … I am praying that although we have chosen to have traditional treatments, with the efforts we are making towards whole foods, healthy choices, lots of water and our next goal – increased exercise Don will be able to get through this with a minimum of consequence.

I have been using lavender on his throat cause it’s an awesome skin repairer. It’s got great burn healing properties. We use melaluca for any sores in his mouth cause it’s known far and wide for it’s healing ability.

We are mostly just relying on the Lord our God, it is His hand that holds our future. Don and I do what we can do here, gladly so but in the end … we know where life begins and ends.
I will write more another time. I am sure I have written way more then is enough. Hope I haven’t bored you to tears.
We love you and appreciate ALL your prayers and the sweet love we receive from you.

day 7

Don wrote:
Day 7 and we got good marks today!! After today's radiation treatment, we visited the doctor, updating him on how I was feeling and what other things we were doing for the cancer...after which he said to me "you sir, are in good hands", speaking of my chief nutritionist and taker care of specialist.  (And she is also my water nazi. 128 oz per day. 4 qts every day. To wash the Chemo out.)

I have discovered a devotional by Oswald Chambers that has amazingly been talking just to me, often telling me just what I need to hear. 

I read in Oswald Chambers this morning:            

"For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation." 2 Corinthians 7:10   

When we sin we sin against Him.

Jesus Christ said that when the Holy Spirit came He would convict of sin.

Conviction, repentance, forgiveness, holiness. The Holy Spirit convicts, we repent, God forgives.

"The entrance into the Kingdom is through the panging pains of repentance crashing into a man's respectable goodness; then the Holy Ghost, Who produces these agonies, begins the formation of the Son of God in the life."

" is only the forgiven man who is the holy man, he proves he is forgiven by being the opposite to what he was, by God's grace."

It is said that crises bring us closer to God, I can only hope that I will be.  

more thoughts on 'why me?':
I have often thought that cancer only happens to 'other people', surely not me. Bad things only happen to somebody else, and we read about it in the paper or on the internet. Bad news sells....But this time I got the bad thing.
I wasn't affected initially (this really isn't happening to me), it's been a gradual realization that I am the one going into the radiation room, I am the one that has to have the mask bolted to the table and I am the one getting the chemo treatments. So, why me .. these are the thoughts that have been on my mind. So I read this this morning:

Paul said in Phillipians 1:12-14, when he was in prison
Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.
As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard [fn] and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.
Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.

Maybe, just maybe, God has placed me in treatment to speak His Word to people at the hospital, to encourage just one or two other brothers to 'speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.' 
Maybe just one?

Friday, December 3, 2010

The First Week

Don made it through his first week of treatments. Radiation 5 times this week. Chemo one time.
We are counting down .. 7 more to go.

Don is feeling VERY queasy. He is empathizing with all the women that have morning sickness for 3 months. He assured me, if they can  get though it he can too.
He has two types of medicine that he can take to help, but they don't help very much. grr.

He is going to be early tonight, it's been a busy week. He needs lots of sleep to let his body recoup.